12 December 2007

Christmas Dinner 0-2007AD

Harassed home chefs are today knocking back the cooking sherry and donning their paper party hats in memory of Christmas Dinner, which has passed away at the ripe, old age of 2007 after being shocked at the sight of its carbon footprint, recently calculated by bored boffins at the University of Manchester as generating 55,000 tonnes of CO2 in the UK alone.

Christmas Dinner was born in 0 AD on the outskirts of Bethlehem in what contemporary estate agents described as "charming, open-plan accommodation with traditional straw and mud floor and en-suite camel, sheep and ox facility". Thanks to the unenlightened attitudes of the time the meal was whipped up by a somewhat irritated Virgin Mary - more than a little tired from the experience of parthenogenesis and dealing with the writ slapped on her by Richard Branson over the use of the trademark Virgin - from whatever lay to hand. Thus it was that the first Christmas Dinner had a notable lack of sprouts and bacon-wrapped sausages and instead went rather heavy on the lamb in gold sauce and camel à la frankincense with a glass of mulled myrrh to wash it down, and that it was eaten by a group of half-cut shepherds, kings and itinerant carpenters who had popped down the pub while Mary was slaving over a hot pile of straw. Notwithstanding this (and the subsequent severe bout of food poisoning the meal engendered, leading Melchior for one to spend the next seven days locked in the bathroom of his hotel in Jerusalem), Christmas Dinner became an instant hit, with Christians across the known world soon lining up on December 25 each year to stuff themselves silly, then feel unwell and irritable for the rest of the afternoon.

Over the next two thousand years, Christmas Dinner spread alongside the religion that bore it, travelling far and wide, often - like Christianity itself - on the end of a pointy sword, long lance or mighty cannon. As it travelled so it came to incorporate all sorts of exotic fare. By the time it had reached Britain a typical Christmas Dinner brought together items such as spices from the Orient, dried fruits from the Mediterranean, turkeys from some godawful shed in Norfolk and a vast array of drinks, including champagnes from France, wines from the New World and that horrible green stuff that tastes like Windolene your Aunty Sal gave you from wherever it was she last went on holiday. Yet even as these newcomers were admitted to the feast, still many old traditions lingered on, particularly the one about all the cooking being left to a harassed female member of the family while the blokes slipped off for a drink. New traditions too were added, from the sullen afternoon slump in front of the Bond movie and the ritual ignoring of the Queen's Speech to the late afternoon punch-up over what Bob said about that horrible green stuff that tastes like Windolene Aunty Sal gave you.

Yet all traditions must eventually come to an end and such was the fate of the Christmas Dinner. With the discovery that assembling the nation's yuletide repast pumped out the same CO2 as a small power station (not to mention the fact that the impact of all those overcooked green veg on a national stomach more used to pizza, chips and burgers had a similar environmental impact) it was plain that Christmas Dinner's time was up. Unwilling to face a slow decline, the Christmas Dinner picked up the hairdryer Mum had been using for the past three hours in a desperate attempt to thaw out the turkey and garrotted itself with the flex whilst attempting to choke itself on the 50p hidden in the Christmas pud just to make absolutely sure.

Christmas Dinner will be buried beneath a vast pile of roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, peas, sausages-wrapped-in-bacon, boiled carrots, sprouts, roast parsnips, cranberry sauce, chestnut stuffing, bread sauce, Christmas Pudding, mince pies, brandy butter and brandy sauce. It is survived by turkey sandwiches.


Colin Campbell said...

My childhood memories of Christmas Dinner from childhood were the silver threepennies in one Granny's dumpling, her overbearing desire to get the Parsons Nose and to win the wishbone contest. The other Granny did not care as long as she could watch the Queens speech.

Now that we are in Australia we have champagne and flavoured pancakes or something inconsistent with stodgy lunch. That and 35 degrees. Very out of touch with the past.

Tom Paine said...

I suppose by "mighty canon", you are referring to the Canon Law? Or is it an imaginative reference to the books of the Bible? Odd that it should be in a list of weapons though.

jmb said...

Five stars.

Sadly it will be resurrected at my house, cooked by a harried me.

The As A Dodo Team said...

Thanks Colin and jmb. Especial thanks - and many apologies - to Tom: we can only blame the ill-functioning internal spellchecks of writer and editor. They will be shot asap. "Canon" has now regained its third "n"

Welshcakes Limoncello said...